- The snowflake fallacy
- Why businesses are often inbred
- The pitfall of staying in bill-paying mode
- Acquiring new clients
- Working in fits and spurts
- Building bridges half-way vs. all the way
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[00:00:00] Brian: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the six Figure Creative Podcast. If this is your first time listening to the show or you're brand new, this is a podcast for creative freelancers who are good at what they do. Important caveat, You wanna earn more money, and you wanna do it without selling your soul.
[00:00:13] Brian: If that sounds like you, you're in the right place. If that doesn't sound like you, then you're in the wrong place. So if you're bad at what you do, go away. Get better at what you do. For the rest of you, returning listeners who've been here a long time, So glad to have you back. this podcast has gone through so many changes over the years, co-hosts, substitute co-hosts, solo episodes, interviews.
[00:00:29] Brian: we're in like a learning phase still, and I feel like this show is still got a long way to go before it's to the place where I want it to be long term. So if you have input, suggestions, I always love to hear from you. The episode today. Is something that stemmed from one of your suggestions.
[00:00:42] Brian: And I would love to get more suggestions from the listeners today to help with this series. Cause we're starting a new series today. I'm like a pastor who went to church growing up the pastor always had a sermon series. I like this series cause it helps me plan out a lot of episodes and stick to a theme and that allows me to get ahead on the show so I'm not like week to week.
[00:00:59] Brian: and I think this [00:01:00] series is great for anyone listening because one of the biggest mistakes people make when they listen to a podcast like this or any other podcast is that it is a flood of information. It is what we call an advice buffet.
[00:01:10] Brian: And when you partake from a device buffet, you get full and fat very fast, and you do nothing with that energy or that information much like anybody. you tend to. Taken all this information and you feel scatterbrained. You feel like you have 10 million things to do, and so you feel kind of stuck getting nothing done. It's really easy for me to sit here from this pedestal of this podcast with a microphone in my face and tell you what to do.
[00:01:34] Brian: and I wanted to take a step back and change things to something a little differently for this series. Instead of just giving you advice or tactics or strategies of things that you should be doing, I wanted to switch it up to something that's probably easier for our regular listeners and even for our new listeners to digest.
[00:01:48] Brian: And implement in their businesses. And I'm apologizing in advance for our editor cuz he is gonna have to bleep out a lot This is gonna be called the Freelance Fuckups series. And we're gonna cover all of the major fuck-ups that freelancers have in different categories.
[00:01:59] Brian: so [00:02:00] my vision for this, it's not gonna be as long as the Back to Basic series, but this is gonna be things that you should not do or things that you should avoid as a freelancer. And I think this is a lot easier to digest and implement in our businesses because you can listen through these episodes week to week and we can just see are we doing any of these things? Are we currently messing any of these things up? Are we this up? And if yes, then just stop or pivot slightly. It's not the same as me saying, Hey. Here's a new lead generation strategy, or here's a new Facebook ad strategy, or here's, here's the new best funnel, or here is the best way to acquire clients, or, here's the best pricing structure. Here's the best business model.
[00:02:32] Brian: Like those are major big things to implement. They take a long time. And with a weekly cadence to the show, you're getting too many things like that in your brain and you don't know what to do. So I wanted to change it up for that series. So this episode, we're gonna be talking about the biggest general things that freelancers up. I've got seven of them for this episode. It could change cuz things can pop in my head as we go. Cause some mistakes lead to other mistakes. But I've got seven outline for this show. I enlisted my wife, my wonderful freelance wife to help me with some of these as well. [00:03:00] She's not gonna be on the show today.
[00:03:01] Brian: sorry for all those who want her on the show. She's a way better personality than me and she'd probably be an amazing co-host, But it's just gonna be me today. So let's talk about the seven biggest fuckups freelancers make and then what to do about those things. The first on my list today is something that I'm calling for right now, the Snowflake Fallacy. It's the reason the six Figure Creative podcast exists.
[00:03:19] Brian: And The Snowflake fallacy is this. I am a unique freelancer that offers some service, whatever that is, photography, videography, graphic design, music production, podcast production, motion design, illustration, whatever. I do this thing. I am a unique snowflake and nothing that anyone else does applies to me or applies to my industry, that's even worse.
[00:03:40] Brian: So if that is you, you were following on what we call the snowflake fallacy, and that is that I'm so unique, or my industry is so unique that nothing applies to me in my industry. This is a deadly mistake again, the entire reason the six figure creative is exists is because I grew up in the music production world.
[00:03:55] Brian: That was my background. I ran a freelance music studio for years. Years. I was making multiple six [00:04:00] figures doing heavy metal music production. Very niche. don't know many people listening to the show right now that has something more unique than that. that they offer full service music production for heavy metal, drop tuned death Core bands like if you wanna get that specific with it, That was my niche.
[00:04:13] Brian: I was a special snowflake. Nothing applied to me, although did it, was it really that special? Are humans that unique, are clients different in every single niche? Slightly, yes, but as unique as the snowflake where there's only one of a kind for every single snowflake. No, it's not that unique. What I eventually learned through my journey of trial and error and beating my head against a wall and hitting roadblock after roadblock, and finally finding mentors and other sources of influence and information in my life.
[00:04:39] Brian: I realized that I could apply all of the learnings that everyone else sat down in every industry, into my unique little snowflake freelance business, my little music production world, and I'm getting into mistake number two. these are sort of the same exact mistakes, so I'm gonna lump these together.
[00:04:54] Brian: It led to what I call an inbred business. Again, I'm from Alabama. I can make that joke kind of crass. I know, but it's [00:05:00] an inbred business, meaning you are just looking inside of your small circle. Freelancers. If you're a photographer, you only look to other photographers.
[00:05:07] Brian: If you're a music producer, you only look to other music producers. If you're a graphic designer, you only look to other graphic designers. If you're motion designer, an illustrator, you only look to other motion designers and illustrators for what you should be doing in your business. This can be. Okay.
[00:05:20] Brian: In scenarios where you're looking to very industry specific things about how you do this technique as a motion designer, how you do this technique as an illustrator, what software you use to make your snare sound that way in music production, all of these things, that's okay. Generally speaking.
[00:05:35] Brian: Although even within that, you can be inbred where you're just in your genre in music and you're only looking in your genre and now everyone's stuff sounds homogenous. Everything sounds the same. You see this in all creative fields, so even when we're learning our creative skills, being an inbred business owner, leads to our downfall because we start looking and sounding like everyone else.
[00:05:51] Brian: There's nothing unique about us, which is kind of what the AI stuff is leading to when it comes to copywriting and using it for writing things for us, which is why I don't use it to write things for me. I use it to ideate [00:06:00] So as inbred business owners, we're now looking to just our immediate circles for input, and that tends to be because we're unique snowflakes, two separate mistakes that we're having here, but the outcome is the same.
[00:06:10] Brian: You're not looking to external sources that have already figured this stuff out. I cannot tell you how much I have learned personally about marketing and client acquisition from. Not the freelance world, not from other music producers, not from the photography niche, not from graphic designers or illustrators.
[00:06:26] Brian: I've learned nothing about it from those people. I have learned the most I've ever learned about client acquisition from the software as a service world. Think about it for a second. The software as a service world SaaS for short, we all use them, like Adobe is now a software as a service where you're paying monthly for the service of using the software there's obviously ones like Spotify is a huge one. Netflix, technically, I guess it's entertainment as a service, but we're subscribing to a software. A better one would be something like a crm. If you use Pipedrive or you use clothes.com or you use Dodo or HoneyBook, those are all software. As a service companies, I have [00:07:00] two of them myself and delving into that world and learning how to grow and scale those businesses, you figure out very quickly that industry has people that are way smarter than us as freelancers, People who had way better educations than us as freelancers, the smartest, brightest minds, because that's where the money is. Venture capitalists dump a ton of money into the startup world, and they have the biggest and brightest minds to solve what is a very solvable problem, and that problem is called customer acquisition.
[00:07:24] Brian: Over there, for us it's called client acquisition. There is very little difference between the two other than the name. So anytime you hear me talk about client acquisition, I am literally just mirroring many of the things I've learned in the customer acquisition world. So if you just wanna get ahead and learn that specific area, just Google customer acquisition, you'll find things from HubSpot, you'll find things from Buffer, you'll find every industry that serves businesses, has some sort of content that's for free, which is amazing.
[00:07:49] Brian: about customer acquisition. Great stuff. And that's because. I have admitted to myself that A, I am not a unique snowflake and that all the problems that I have in my business have been solved by someone else in some other industry. And b, I [00:08:00] refuse to be an inbred business, meaning I'm not gonna just learn from my immediate circle.
[00:08:04] Brian: I'm gonna branch out to bigger and better things. Two huge mistakes that leads to huge. massive consequences of being stagnant, feeling alone. Making no progress, little to no progress and beating your head against the wall with the same exact problems over and over again. And just looking to your immediate circle.
[00:08:19] Brian: Two huge mistakes. So those are the first two. We're starting off strong here. We have talked about the snowflake fallacy, which leads to the inbred business, maybe I'll stop using that term. I dunno. You let me know. before I go into third today, I wanna stop and just say, if you have a massive mistake that you want me to cover or you think is a mistake that needs to be covered, I want you to fill out the survey we email@example.com slash better B e t t e r. In that it'll just ask you a couple questions. What do we do? Okay. What do you like about us? What do you hate about us? What are improvement opportunities? And they're just put like, this upcoming series you have going on, Brian, I think you should cover this mistake or these mistakes in business.
[00:08:50] Brian: I see this all the time. Gimme as much information as you want. I will probably use it in this upcoming series. So, share with me so that you can help craft this series with me, and I'm not just alone in my bubble, sitting at the [00:09:00] top of my throne on the third floor of my house. Speaking into a microphone, as if I'm the world's authority on this stuff.
[00:09:04] Brian: I appreciate you listening to me, but I'm not the world's authority on this stuff, and I, I need a lot of input from y'all to help me. So I'm not just using my own mistakes and the mistakes that I see, but the mistakes that people report back to me. So mistake number three is left field, completely different.
[00:09:18] Brian: you're a freelancer who's staying in what we call bill paying work mode for too long.
[00:09:22] Brian: So let's first define the bill paying work. It should be self-defining, but I'll just explain it. Many freelancers, when we decided to do this full-time, Or even part-time we're trying to make money from our creative skills. There comes a time where we get a project that comes in that we're like, I don't really wanna do this.
[00:09:36] Brian: It's not my cup of tea. It's not something I'd love to do. It's not like fulfilling me. It's not like the best thing ever, but it pays well enough where I'll do it. If you've ever done that, you've taken on bill paying work. Nothing wrong with that when you're a freelancer, especially if you're full-time, especially if you have a family and bills and mortgages and all the things in life that you have to deal with.
[00:09:52] Brian: Bill paying work pays the bills. So the very first thing you should be doing as a full-time freelancer is paying the bills. You have to do that [00:10:00] because if you are stressed about money, you will not be a good creative. So the first thing you should do is bill paying work, but eventually, You've gotta pivot away from that because the trap you can fall into is what we talk about at the beginning of every podcast episode for like the last 50 episodes, is you're making more money, but you're selling your soul. I want you to make more money without selling your soul.
[00:10:16] Brian: so if you stay in bill paying work mode for too long, you slowly start Over a long period of time. You're selling your soul one bill paying project at a time. I don't want anyone to stay in that mode for too long.
[00:10:27] Brian: Yes, pay the bills, yes, take on the projects pay the bills. If you have a team, you gotta pay. Obviously you gotta do that, but at a certain point you should be setting yourself up and staying open to opportunities to start bringing in the right kind of clients and. I'd say one of the main reasons people stay in bill paying work mode for too long, is because they don't understand customer acquisition or client acquisition.
[00:10:46] Brian: Remember, we talked about this earlier, there's plenty of other industries that have already solved this problem. This is not a unique problem to your Snowflake business because the clients that you're working with are human beings and human beings are pretty well studied and documented what it, takes to appeal [00:11:00] to them.
[00:11:00] Brian: To answer their questions, to have social proof and authority, to build trust and credibility, to become no liked and trusted. What sort of business models work? How you acquire those people, how you generate leads, that's all solved problems. when you haven't gone into that world to solve that problem for yourself, and you just have a trickle of projects coming in, you are forced to say yes to anyone that will pay you because you just don't have any amount of leads.
[00:11:24] Brian: deals or gigs or projects or clients coming into the door. So when you have nothing coming into the door or very little coming into the door, you're forced to say yes to things you shouldn't say yes to. So the way to solve this is to bring in more at the top of the funnel, which is just a marketing term for saying, bringing more eyeballs to your business and then selling to those people.
[00:11:42] Brian: When you have more opportunities and prospects, then you have way more clients that you can say yes to, that you actually enjoy. just like dating, if you were looking for an mate for lack of a better term, and there is just one person in your community that you're obsessed with and there's no one else that you could possibly, date, you have to do whatever you [00:12:00] can to make that work, even if that's not the perfect person for you. If that's the only option you have, then that's what you have to make work. If you have a larger pool of people that you could potentially date that match all the things that you're looking for as a human being who has value, Then you can cherry pick who makes the most sense for you. There's a two-way street, obviously, just like client work. the larger the dating pool, the more people you swipe right on, on your dating app, the more opportunity you have as someone looking for a date or someone looking for a paid project in the creative freelance world, the more opportunities you have to find the right mate for your business.
[00:12:29] Brian: So if you're staying in bill paying work too long, you've probably not solved that client acquisition problem. And some of the stuff we'll be talking about in this series will be related to that. So hopefully some of the mistakes in client acquisition will directly help you avoid being in this mode for too long.
[00:12:44] Brian: So that's the third mistake, is staying in bill paying work mode for too long. The fourth mistake freelancers make is falling under the trap of fits and spurts. Stop me if you've heard this one before. Ooh, here's the thing I should be doing. I'm gonna to go do that thing. That thing brings me results. [00:13:00] Those results bury me in work. I stopped doing that thing. Oh wow, the work has dried up.
[00:13:05] Brian: Now I need to go back to that thing that I was doing before that was working. I'm gonna go do that thing. Wow, this thing's really working. I've got projects coming in. Now I'm buried in work, and so I stopped doing the thing. And you just repeat that cycle. that's what starts the feast or famine cycle.
[00:13:18] Brian: almost every freelancer has fallen with the trap at least one time through one cycle. Most freelancers that I know have some variation of fits and spurts, freelancing in their business.
[00:13:26] Brian: The, this is the reason you don't have any consistency in your business as a freelancer. Consistent people get consistent results. Inconsistent results are a symptom of inconsistency as a human being. So if you're not a consistent person, you tend to not have consistent results in your life. So as a freelancer, as a business owner,
[00:13:43] Brian: we have to take this stuff seriously. So if you find a strategy that is working in your business, it is almost always better to take the long term marathon approach versus the. Short term sprints approach to anything that's working for you, whether it is social media, whether it is paid advertising, whether it is [00:14:00] partnerships, networking, cold outreach, any of the above.
[00:14:02] Brian: again, everyone is slightly different here. You're not snowflakes though, you're slightly different, but all of us have had some sort of thing that you know has worked for you, and yet if I asked you. How often do you do this thing? You show me your calendar. It's not consistent.
[00:14:15] Brian: It is fits and spurts. so if you are making this mistake, the only advice I can really give you is find a set time and get in a habit and a routine. And you just say, every Monday morning from this time to this time is my time to do this thing that I know works for me, Ray or Shine.
[00:14:29] Brian: I'm gonna do the, 15 or 20 mile march and I, again, I'm gonna butcher this story, but it's something the 20 mile march is something to this effect. There were two explorers trying to get to the South Pole. One explorer was just on good, clear days. They're doing a hundred miles on really bad blizzard days.
[00:14:44] Brian: They're doing nothing. They're just gonna rest. Meanwhile, explorer number two, it was, we're gonna do a 20 mile march every single day, rain or shine, no matter how good it is or how bad it is, on the clearest of days, we're only doing 20 miles, and then we'll rest on the worst of days. We're going to slog through 20 miles of work, and then we're gonna rest, no matter what, 20 mile [00:15:00] March every day.
[00:15:00] Brian: Who won that race? It was the 20 mile March person, I believe. If the story's correct and my memory's correct, the other person didn't even make it. I think they died on the way there. The way back. It's something dark and horrible like that. But the point remains when you're doing the 20 mile march in your business, that helps you eliminate the fits and spurts approach.
[00:15:16] Brian: So if you find yourself doing this fits and spurts approach to anything in your business that you know works, But you're not consistently doing it. Carve out a time to work on your business to do that thing every single week as like a marathon. It's just a small amount of manageable work over a long period of time instead of I'm gonna bury myself in this thing for short amount of time and get no results.
[00:15:37] Brian: Social media is an example of this. Cold outreach is a really good example of this. So the fits and spurts approach detrimental to your business. So number four was the fits and spurts approach. freelance, up. Number five is freelancers Build Half-Built Bridges. Again, this is another common thing I see so often, especially for our regular podcast listeners.
[00:15:54] Brian: They hear a new shiny object. They start doing that thing in fits and spurts. It kinda goes together here. You get [00:16:00] halfway there, you build half of a machine or half of a thing, half of a bridge. It goes to nowhere because it's only half done, and then you start your next one and you build another half built bridge, and then you start the next one.
[00:16:09] Brian: You another half bill bridge. This is a really good way of eating up your time, your energy, your money, sometimes getting absolutely no results in return. Think about any bridge that you start to walk down. It doesn't get across the river. It's halfway there. That's not very useful, is it? It's not gonna you to the desired end result that you had in mind when you started this thing.
[00:16:28] Brian: So if you're a freelancer and this is your big up, then you're probably falling into that advice buffet thing that I talked about at the beginning of this podcast, where you are just endlessly consuming content over educating, trying to know steps two through 200 before you even start step one.
[00:16:43] Brian: If that is you, you probably have all of these half-built bridges in your life. This is one of my big fuck-ups. I have a lot of half-built bridges in my life, I go through seasons of this. By the way, trying to get really good at finishing bridges and not starting a new bridge before I finish the other one.
[00:16:56] Brian: So when you find yourself, where you're building something [00:17:00] out for yourself and your business. This could be something for client acquisition, it could be something for. Onboarding for your clients. It could be something for collaborating with your clients. It could be something for making project more efficient.
[00:17:10] Brian: It could be automations, any number of things in your business to make it run better. If you've half-built something that is unusable, you've just spent a lot of time, effort, energy building something that never got to completion, so you got none of the benefit from that. when you look at it like an equation five times, five times, five times zero is zero.
[00:17:27] Brian: So you've got to at least get it to completion. To where you're getting some benefit from it before you move on to anything else. Because the cycle I see myself and many people go through is you see the next shiny object that seems so fun.
[00:17:38] Brian: The grass is always greener on that side and you, you'd get halfway there and then it gets hard, and then you stop. And then you hear this new shiny object and this one sounds way better. The other one's. Yeah, that's, yeah, we'll get back to that. And then you start this next project and you build halfway there, and then you stop and you now have three half built bridges.
[00:17:53] Brian: You've put 15 units of energy into them. And you have zero return, that is wasted time. So if you find yourself falling into this [00:18:00] trap, just stop. That's the only advice I can give you. Stop building any new bridges until you finish the one you're on. And my advice to you is going against this podcast is a detriment to me as a podcaster, but when you know what you should do and you're building it, And it's gonna take weeks or months.
[00:18:16] Brian: Stop listening to this podcast, stop listening to other podcasts. Stop listening to new information, and just focus on whatever information will help you. Finish that bridge. That is it. It's called just in Time information. If you look at my bookshelf, I have a stack of books for every major part of my business with a Post-It note on the top of each stack that just says, When I need more clients or when I need to be more efficient or when I'm building my team, I need to be a better leader. different problems that I might run into that I don't even look at that stack of books until I need that information.
[00:18:45] Brian: That's what I'm challenging you, is just, just focus on just in time information.
[00:18:48] Brian: The last two I'm gonna run through pretty quickly cuz I am late for a meeting with my team right now. It is what it is, Number six is you're treating your business like a hobby, which is very common because it's creatives.
[00:18:58] Brian: As freelancers, we come into this because we love [00:19:00] what we do as a creative, we love video, we love audio, we love design, we love photography. We love whatever we do. We love the software and the tools. We love tweaking things. We love making things that didn't exist before that fills our soul. But when we start accepting money for our skills, we are no longer a hobbyist.
[00:19:16] Brian: We are now a business owner. If you wanna stay a hobbyist, then you can just ignore this advice and stop listening to this podcast. But if you're listening to this podcast, this is just my reminder for you this week that this is no longer a hobby for you. You are now by definition, a professional.
[00:19:29] Brian: You're no longer amateur. You're a pro. And if you're a pro, you have to do things slightly differently. You have to take things seriously. You have to treat it like a business. The day you took money as a freelancer, you created different roles in a business. Every business has different roles. There is a bookkeeper, there is a marketer, there is a operations specialist.
[00:19:47] Brian: There is the creative, which is you. There's the manager, there's a bunch of different ways to think about this, but you created the roles when you began. someone has to do these roles in your business and with you being the only employee of your business, all those roles are you.
[00:19:59] Brian: And if [00:20:00] you neglect those roles, for example, if you don't pay your taxes, you'll probably go to jail eventually. So there's certain things you have to do once you started a business. So you can no longer treat yourself like a hobbyist. So if you're currently treating yourself like a hobbyist, it's time to go to the back to Basics episodes, the series that I just did, and listen through some of those about how you can put your big boy underwear on this.
[00:20:20] Brian: That's what I used to call it when I was a kid. vaguely remember this is just like put on my big boy underwear, which is just like, the first things you wear after diapers. you're no longer in diapers As a hobbyist, you are now in your big boy underwear or big girl underwear.
[00:20:30] Brian: So put those on, take it seriously, stop treating it like a hobby. And then finally, number seven, and this is plaguing our industry as creatives as you. Were not valuing yourself. Every person I talk to starts with this. I don't know anyone who is truly valuing their self correctly as a freelancer.
[00:20:45] Brian: And this leads to undercharging yourself, not promoting yourself, not following up with clients. It leads to a bunch of other issues because you don't value yourself at the core level. some of the best creatives that I know, people that have won awards, they're at the top of their industry as far as [00:21:00] credentials and all the things that externally should validate you, and yet they still don't value themselves.
[00:21:04] Brian: People that are way undercharging. People who are taking on clients that they shouldn't, people who are letting clients walk all over them when they shouldn't. These are all symptoms of not Valuing yourself, and this is again, one of the most detrimental, fuckups, sorry, Leland, for the edits today.
[00:21:19] Brian: This is one of the most detrimental fuckups you could have in a business as a freelancer, as a creative, because the cascading effects go so deep and they ruin everything for yourself if you don't learn to value yourself. It's a long road. There's no quick and easy answer here, but this is a huge, huge part of stepping into being a professional and no longer hobbyist.
[00:21:37] Brian: Learning to value your work, value yourself and understand that people are paying you because you provide value for them, and this is just basic economics. As someone will pay you, then you are by definition creating value for them that is above and beyond what they're paying you. And once you start to really understand, take yourself and your soul out of it for just a second, and look at it objectively from top down.
[00:21:58] Brian: From a business model [00:22:00] perspective, they're paying you because they value you. and typically, The better clients you can attract, the more you can tend to charge, and that helps boost your self-esteem and your self-worth, which leads to you being able to raise rates, attract better clients.
[00:22:14] Brian: It's a virtuous cycle versus a vicious cycle.
[00:22:16] Brian: So if you found yourself falling into one of these seven which I'm gonna go over 'em again, is the Snowflake fallacy, which leads to an inbred business. You've got staying in bill paying mode for too long. You are a fits and spurts freelancer. You've got half built bridges. You're treating this like a hobby.
[00:22:33] Brian: And you're not valuing yourself. Those are seven horrible mistakes, horrible as a freelancer that can ruin your business. If I miss something today, or there's some you wanna have me bring up in future on this series of freelance fuckups and what to do about them, then just again, go to six-figure b e tt e r, and fill out that short survey.
[00:22:53] Brian: None of the things are required. You can just pick and choose what you want to answer there. It's completely anonymous or not. You can choose whether or not you want your name and email [00:23:00] associated with it, but just fill it out. Let me know. Would love to hear from you. but that is it for this episode this week.
[00:23:04] Brian: Thank you so much for listening the six Figure Creative Podcast.
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